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7
The Coming of the King

The Coming of the King

“Behold the Queen!” At the opening of the door to the Hall of the Dúnedain and the entrance of the shining soul there the entire company turned, a pathway opening automatically to allow the entrance of a woman of such beauty that all must turn to see. The joy of Gilraen as she watched the entrance of her son’s beloved wife flared high, particularly as she saw the great Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar Telcontar, Estel and Thorongil, rise from his great High Seat beside that of Elros Tar-Minyatar himself and come down to meet her. The Light of Being for both husband and wife lit the entire Hall as they met and embraced, and the delight of their Perian attendants added a new depth to the joy that permeated all.

"Behold my Queen,” proclaimed the King, “the daughter of Lord Elrond and the Lady Celebrían, the granddaughter of the Lord Celeborn and the Lady Galadriel, the rulers of the Golden Wood. She is the Lady Arwen Undomiel, Evenstar of her people within Middle Earth, and the like of her will come to Middle Earth not again save in the heritage of our children. Rejoice with me at our reunion."

Beside King and Queen stood the two Hobbits who’d been accepted to the service of Gondor and Rohan, and all bowed low in the honor they’d earned.
Gilraen and Arathorn came forward to give their greetings, and the Lady Arwen Undomiel turned to them with a joy the gravity of which could not be measured. “Arwen, my sister!” Arathorn said, embracing her. “And now my daughter as well! At your presence this room must know more of the Light of the Eldar than has been known for the two Ages of its existence, for now two of the Peredhil grace it.”

Gilraen looked into the face of the one woman her son had ever loved and smiled with joy. “I rejoiced to receive back from my son the Hope I’d given with him to our peoples, and now I know why it has been so fulfilled. For your love alone would he have faced that responsibility, for the fulfillment you have given him.” She held close to her heart the one who’d served as Mistress of Imladris for so long after her mother had quitted the mortal lands of Arda before becoming the Lady of Arnor and Gondor. “Oh, my Lady Arwen, I rejoice to see you at last reunited with my son, for he has never been as whole as he is with you beside him.”

*******

When at last the moment came, Gilraen was fully ready, and Arathorn beside her. Long the two had held back from crossing the River and entering the further Gardens, those which were no longer within the realms of Arda. Now it was time, time to approach the Presence at the last, renewed and readied by the presence of the last of the Kings of the Eldar Times.

“Will you accompany us, our Father?” Aragorn asked of the Lord Elros.

That great King roared with laughter. “My Son,” he returned, “I already am beyond the River. Yes, I entered this Hall and sit here, but I could not be restrained from the Presence for long. My memory remains here for those who will come after, as yours will beside me. But I will be as glad to greet your arrival there as I have been to do so here.”

Aragorn’s laughter also filled the Hall of the Dúnedain, full of the delight of it. “Then I leave you with the knowledge of the love of your brother, as I will greet you there, then.”

“My father ever honored you, Uncle,” Arwen added.

Elros nodded. “We had discussed when young what we would do in the end, but still when I chose to accept the Gift of Iluvatar it took him in part by surprise. I wonder if he has ever known the desire to see what is hidden by the next turning in the road as I did?”

Aragorn shrugged. “I think he has known that, but is willing to wait to learn, my Lord.”

Elros looked down at the two who stood at the side of this illustrious pair, and bowed deeply to them. “When you meet the other sons of my spirit, give them my greetings,” he said gently, laying a shining hand on each of them in blessing.

“We will,” said Meriadoc Brandybuck, Esquire to the King and Knight of Rohan. They bowed in return and turned to accompany King and Queen to the great Door, which opened to allow them to go forth.

Pippin turned ere they quitted the room, and saw that at the far side of the room on the High Seat sat Elros Tar-Minyatar, and beside him the very King and Queen they followed. “Don’t rightly know, Merry,” he said quietly to his companion, “if I’ll ever fully appreciate how we can be here in more than one place at a time. I couldn’t see--are we still back there by them?”

In the door Merry took his True Shape, and now being taller than most of the company he turned and look back, then laughed. “Yes, there we are, and you are singing for the Lord Denethor, and doing so in joy.”

“Good,” said Pippin, again assuming his True Shape as he quitted the Hall and stood on the Way to the Gardens. In good humor they made their way through the nearer Gardens, headed toward the deeper ones. “What did the Lord Elros mean about the sons of his spirit?”

Merry smiled, full of delight. “That you will learn shortly, Pippin my lad.”

Pippin looked up at Aragorn’s smiling face as he walked with his wife on one side and his mother on the other, his father shining behind them. “Nice to see this family back together again.”

Merry nodded. “Now for Aragorn to come back to Frodo and Sam again, and he’ll feel complete.”

Arwen looked at the silver Bridge. “I’m the first of my kind to even see this since Elros came this way, two Ages past,” she murmured. She smiled and stepped upon it confidently.

As they stepped off of it, Aragorn examined her with pleasure. “How you could ever be improved upon I could never imagine,” he said, kissing her lightly. His anticipation could be seen as they approached the gap he’d gone through before.

Rosie stood beside Sam this time, and before them, amongst the children, knelt Frodo, the Light of Frodo’s Being alone filling the glade with glory. All turned to examine those who entered now, and the one who’d been Frodo and Iorhael bowed deeply. “We welcome you.”

Arathorn was the first to come forward, drawing the two shining forms together that he might examine each. “You who might have been my own sons, I greet you and give thanks for you. The son who lived would never have known the fullness of bliss had you not agreed to take the chance a second time.”

Gilraen said nothing, but held out her arms to them. They accepted her embrace and returned it. Sam murmured, “I’m a bit sorry not to have known you in life, my Lady. But I’ll not regret what I did know. I think you’ll love the Gaffer and my mum Bell.”

“I’m certain I will, Anorhael,” she said. “I so often regretted the loss of you to my arms, but now simply am glad that you were there for Estel when he needed you.”

Long she and Iorhael exchanged looks. Aragorn laid a hand on the shoulder of each. “You sacrificed your hope of family, Naneth, as he did the same. Now those sacrifices have been fulfilled.” He straightened and drew the shining form of his twin brother up and to him. “And now, at last, Gil-galadrion, you and I will be able to go out together on errantry as so often I dreamed when I was a child.” He looked down, and his laughter filled the glade and beyond. “And I see we will never go forth alone--that wherever we go we will ever be surrounded by youth and imagination.”

The one who might have been Gilorhael laughed fully with Aragorn, and looked around at all those who filled the glade. “Youth and imagination, you say?” The laughter grew more full and joyful. “Family I have again--brothers and sisters, parents beyond anticipation and children beyond count! And the tales I will have ever to tell!” A shining hand caressed the great mantle the figure wore.

“Now, wait a moment,” Sam laughed, “You’re not going nowhere without me!”

Pippin looked into Merry’s eyes. “Then, it’s true?” he asked with growing delight. “They are brothers after all, were always meant to be?”

“Of course, you daft Took!”

“Our first bit of errantry,” Frodo laughed, a shining arm about Aragorn’s waist, smiling across him at Arwen’s shining visage. “To the Presence!”

Arathorn and Gilraen had turned to the one who’d stood, tears of joy and fulfillment shining on his face, watching the reunion.

“Thank you again, my Lord,” Arathorn said with deepest respect to he who had been Bilbo Baggins. “You did a remarkable job of readying the two of them.”

“I’d have spared him all the grief if it had been possible,” Bilbo said quietly. “But I find it was well worth it to see that one now, surrounded by the love so long known and now fulfilled. Thank you for the honor of fostering those Lights for so long.”

“We, too, would have only fostered them,” Gilraen murmured.

She and her husband put their arms about the Teacher’s shoulders, and together they followed in the King’s train, hearing the murmured, “The way is so beautiful....” And before them they saw, waiting for their coming forth from the glade, the discrete form of one who in life had been absurdly short, but who in fulfillment was a tall and shining figure, awaiting with patience the coming of those whom he’d come to love beyond all others, sharing that love through the works of his artistry.

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